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if you were offered $100K to stay out of college, would you take it?

06/03/13 , , , , ,


a few weeks ago, billionaire peter thiel announced the 2013 class of theil fellows.  the 22 winners, ages 18-20, will receive $100,000 + 2 years of mentoring in their desired field in exchange for staying away from school (click here to learn more about the program).  here’s background on some of the chosen via co.exist:

Ritesh Agarwal (19, New Delhi, India) is one of the youngest entrepreneurs from India to raise angel investments. He runs OYO Inns, a chain of affordable, tech-enabled inns, and Oravel, a rising popular alternative to hotels in India. As a Thiel Fellow, Agarwal will leverage technology to bring affordable and standardized accommodations to emerging economies across the world, starting in India.

Zach Hamed (20, Holbrook, NY) originally from New York City, was a junior at Harvard studying computer science before joining the Thiel Fellowship. The son of a teacher and a computer programmer, Hamed is a first-generation American who hopes to apply his interest in user interface and experience design to K-12 education. As a Thiel Fellow, Hamed will focus on developing a suite of beautifully designed tools for K-12 teachers, saving them time, providing them supplemental income, and helping them do what they do best–teach.

William LeGate (18, Marietta, GA) is an entrepreneur and computer scientist. He taught himself programming at age 14 from online Stanford lectures and has since created more than a dozen mobile apps which have been downloaded more than 5 million times and are now used by 1 in 16 U.S. teens. During his fellowship he plans to change the way that we discover apps for things around us.

Maddy Maxey (18, San Diego, CA) began interning in the fashion industry when she was 16 for companies like Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Ricco, Peter Som, and Nylon Magazine. After founding a popular fashion blog while in France and then winning a scholarship from the CFDA & Teen Vogue for her work, she started a clothing company of her own. As a Thiel Fellow, Maxey will focus on optimizing the clothing patterns and the enterprise software that make our current garment industry inefficient. Her goal is to make domestic production profitable through better integrating software, not just hardware technologies, into our manufacturing system.

Kevin Wang (18, Vernon Hills, IL) began developing games and applications when he was 9. Since then, he has moved into entrepreneurship, applying his highly technical background to solve bigger problems. As a Thiel Fellow, he aims to simplify the world of law and open source software to end the wasteful litigation epidemic.

while thiel’s motivation for starting the fellowship comes from him seeing college as overrated, the scholarship itself doesn’t sully the overall importance of going to school.  instead, it supports the fact that there are different paths to success in life and not all of them include a university.  also of note here is that the winners of these scholarships showed drive & initiative toward specific goals at an early age (some people can go through grad school without knowing what they ultimately want to do with their lives).

returning to the title question, if you were offered $100K + mentorship to stay away from college, would you take it?  why or why not?  and if you would accept it, what would you do with the opportunity?


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